Madrid, Spain: Wikis


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Coat of arms
Motto: "Fui sobre agua edificada,
mis muros de fuego son.
Esta es mi insignia y blasón
(On water I was built,
my walls are made of fire.
This is my ensign and escutcheon) [1][2]
Location of Madrid
Madrid is located in Spain
Location of Madrid
Coordinates: 40°23′N 3°43′W / 40.383°N 3.717°W / 40.383; -3.717
Country Spain Spain
Region Community of Madrid
Founded 9th century
 - Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón (PP)
 - Land 607 km2 (234.4 sq mi)
 - Metro 10,506 km2 (4,057 sq mi)
Elevation 667 m (2,188 ft)
Population (2009)
 - City 3,255,944
 Metro 6,386,932
  population-ranking: 1st
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 28001-28080
Area code(s) 34 (Spain) + 91 (Madrid)

Madrid (English pronunciation: /məˈdrɪd/; Spanish: [maˈðɾið], colloquially [maˈðɾi]) is the capital and largest city of Spain.[3] It is the third-most populous municipality in the European Union after Greater London and Berlin, and its metropolitan area is the third-most populous in the European Union after Paris and London.[4][5][6][7]

The city is located on the river Manzanares in the centre of both the country and the Community of Madrid (which comprises the city of Madrid, its conurbation and extended suburbs and villages); this community is bordered by the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political centre of Spain.[8] The current mayor is Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón from the People's Party (PP). He has been in office since 2003, when he left the Presidency of the Autonomous Community of Madrid and stood as the candidate to replace outgoing mayor José María Álvarez del Manzano, also from the PP. In the last local elections of 2007, Ruiz-Gallardón increased the PP majority in the City Council to 34 seats out of 57, taking 55.5% of the popular vote and winning in all but two districts.

Due to its economic output, standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial centre of the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies (Telefónica, Repsol-YPF, Banco Santander).[9] Furthermore, Madrid was ranked in drawn 10th place with Hong Kong for the world's most powerful cities, featuring in the top 20 cities for 5 out of the 6 categories considered.

While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the imposing 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; an archaeological museum; and three superb art museums: Prado Museum, which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.[10]

The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million (as of December 2009). The entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area (urban area and suburbs) is calculated to be 6.386.932. The city spans a total of 698 km² (234 sq mi).[11]


Names of the city

Monument to Alfonso XII at the Parque del Retiro
Fountain of Apollo or of the Four Seasons, at the Paseo del Prado

There are several theories regarding the origin of the name "Madrid". According to legend Madrid was founded by Ocno Bianor (son of King Tyrrhenius of Tuscany and Mantua) and was named "Metragirta" or "Mantua Carpetana". Others contend that the original name of the city was "Ursaria" ("land of bears" in Latin), due to the high number of these animals that were found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the strawberry tree ("madroño" in Spanish), have been the emblem of the city from the Middle Ages.[12] The ancient name of the city "Magerit" comes from the name of a fortress built on the Manzanares River in 9AD, and means "Place of abundant water."[13]

Nevertheless, it is now commonly believed that the origin of the current name of the city comes from the 2nd century B.C. The Roman Empire established a settlement on the banks of the Manzanares river. The name of this first village was "Matrice" (a reference to the river that crossed the settlement). Following the invasions of the Germanic Sueves, Vandals and Alans during the fifth century A.D., the Roman Empire could not defend its territories on the Iberian Peninsula, and were therefore overrun by the Visigoths. The barbarian tribes subsequently took control of "Matrice". In the 7th century the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula saw the name changed to "Mayrit", from the Arabic term ميرا "Mayra" (referencing water as a "trees" or "giver of life") and the Ibero-Roman suffix "it" that means "place". The modern "Madrid" evolved from the Mozarabic "Matrit", which is still in the Madrilenian gentilic.[14]



Middle Ages

Although the site of modern-day Madrid has been occupied since pre-historic times,[15] in the Roman era this territory belonged to the diocese of Complutum (present-day Alcalá de Henares). There are archeological remains of a small village during the visigoth epoch, whose name might have been adopted later by Arabs.[12] The origins of the modern city come from the 9th century, when Muhammad I ordered the construction of a small palace in the same place that is today occupied by the Palacio Real. Around this palace a small citadel, al-Mudaina, was built. Near that palace was the Manzanares, which the Muslims called al-Majrīṭ (Arabic: المجريط, "source of water"). From this came the naming of the site as Majerit, which later evolved into the modern-day spelling of Madrid. The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Christian king Alfonso VI of Castile in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary). In 1329, the Cortes Generales first assembled in the city to advise Alfonso XI of Castile. Sephardi Jews and Moors continued to live in the city until they were expelled at the end of the 15th century.[12] After troubles and a large fire, Henry III of Castile (1379–1406) rebuilt the city and established himself safely fortified outside its walls in El Pardo. The grand entry of Ferdinand and Isabella to Madrid heralded the end of strife between Castile and Aragon.[12]


The Crown of Castile, with its capital at Toledo, and the Crown of Aragon, with its capital at Barcelona, were welded into modern Spain by the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon).[12]

Though their grandson Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) favoured Seville, it was Charles' son, Philip II (1527–1598) who moved the court to Madrid in 1561. Although he made no official declaration, the seat of the court was the de facto capital. Seville continued to control commerce with Spain's colonies, but Madrid controlled Seville.[16]

Aside from a brief period, 1601–1606, when Felipe III installed his court in Valladolid, Madrid's fortunes have closely mirrored those of Spain.

During the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century), in the 16th/17th century, Madrid bore little resemblance to other European capitals, as the population of the city was economically dependent on the business of the court itself, and there was no other significant activity.[16]

From 19th century to present day

AZCA in winter.

In the late 1800s, Isabel II could not suppress the political tension that would lead to yet another revolt, the First Spanish Republic. This was later followed by the return of the monarchy to Madrid, then the creation of the Second Spanish Republic, preceding the Spanish Civil War.[16]

Madrid was one of the most heavily affected cities of Spain by the Civil War (1936–1939). The city was a stronghold of the Republicans from July 1936. Its western suburbs were the scene of an all-out battle in November 1936 and it was during the Civil War that Madrid became the first European city to be bombed by airplanes (Japan was the first to bomb civilians in world history, at Shanghai in 1932) specifically targeting civilians in the history of warfare. (See Siege of Madrid (1936-39)).[16]

During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, especially during the 1960s, the south of Madrid became very industrialized, and there were massive migrations from rural areas of Spain into the city. Madrid's south-eastern periphery became an extensive working class settlement, which was the base for an active cultural and political reform.[16]

After the death of Franco, emerging democratic parties (including those of left-wing and republican ideology) accepted King Juan Carlos I as both Franco's successor and as the heir of the historic dynasty - in order to secure stability and democracy. This led Spain to its current position as a constitutional monarchy, with Madrid as capital.[16]

Benefiting from increasing prosperity in the 1980s and 1990s, the capital city of Spain has consolidated its position as an important economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological centre on the European continent.[16]



The region of Madrid features the rare Continental Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa)[17][18] with cool winters due to altitude, including sporadic snowfalls and minimum temperatures often below 0 °C (32 °F). Summer tends to be hot with temperatures that consistently surpass 30 °C (86 °F) in July and that can rarely reach 40 °C (104 °F). Due to Madrid's altitude and dry climate, nightly temperatures tend to be cooler, leading to a lower average in the summer months. Precipitation levels are low, but precipitation can be observed throughout the year. Summer and winter are the driest seasons, with most rainfall occurring in the autumn and spring.[19]

Climate data for Madrid
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 9.7
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Precipitation cm (inches) 3.7
Avg. precipitation days 9 9 7 11 12 7 3 3 5 9 9 11 95
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)[20]

Water supply

Madrid derives almost 50 percent of its water supply from dams and reservoirs built on the Lozoya River, such as the El Atazar Dam.


Madrid is administratively divided into 21 districts, which are further subdivided into 128 wards (barrios)

Madrid districts. The numbers correspond with the list in the left
View of the districts of Latina and Carabanchel.
  1. Centro: Palacio, Embajadores, Cortes, Justicia, Universidad, Sol.
  2. Arganzuela: Imperial, Acacias, La Chopera, Legazpi, Delicias, Palos de Moguer, Atocha.
  3. Retiro: Pacífico, Adelfas, Estrella, Ibiza, Jerónimos, Niño Jesús.
  4. Salamanca: Recoletos, Goya, Parque de las Avenidas, Fuente del Berro, Guindalera, Lista, Castellana.
  5. Chamartín: El Viso, Prosperidad, Ciudad Jardín, Hispanoamérica, Nueva España, Castilla.
  6. Tetuán: Bellas Vistas, Cuatro Caminos, Castillejos, Almenara, Valdeacederas, Berruguete.
  7. Chamberí: Gaztambide, Arapiles, Trafalgar, Almagro, Vallehermoso, Ríos Rosas.
  8. Fuencarral-El Pardo: El Pardo, Fuentelarreina, Peñagrande, Barrio del Pilar, La Paz, Valverde, Mirasierra, El Goloso.
  9. Moncloa-Aravaca: Casa de Campo, Argüelles, Ciudad Universitaria, Valdezarza, Valdemarín, El Plantío, Aravaca.
  10. Latina: Los Cármenes, Puerta del Ángel, Lucero, Aluche, Las Águilas, Campamento, Cuatro Vientos.
  11. Carabanchel: Comillas, Opañel, San Isidro, Vista Alegre, Puerta Bonita, Buenavista, Abrantes.
  12. Usera: Orcasitas, Orcasur, San Fermín, Almendrales, Moscardó, Zofío, Pradolongo.
  13. Puente de Vallecas: Entrevías, San Diego, Palomeras Bajas, Palomeras Sureste, Portazgo, Numancia.
  14. Moratalaz: Pavones, Horcajo, Marroquina, Media Legua, Fontarrón, Vinateros.
  15. Ciudad Lineal: Ventas, Pueblo Nuevo, Quintana, La Concepción, San Pascual, San Juan Bautista, Colina, Atalaya, Costillares.
  16. Hortaleza: Palomas, Valdefuentes, Canillas, Pinar del Rey, Apóstol Santiago, Piovera.
  17. Villaverde: San Andrés, San Cristóbal, Butarque, Los Rosales, Los Ángeles.
  18. Villa de Vallecas: Casco Histórico de Vallecas, Santa Eugenia.
  19. Vicálvaro: Casco Histórico de Vicálvaro, Ambroz.
  20. San Blas: Simancas, Hellín, Amposta, Arcos, Rosas, Rejas, Canillejas, Salvador.
  21. Barajas: Alameda de Osuna, Aeropuerto, Casco Histórico de Barajas, Timón, Corralejos.

Metropolitan Area

The Madrid Metropolitan Area (Spanish: Área metropolitana de Madrid) comprises the city of Madrid and forty surrounding municipalities. It has a population of slightly more than 5.8 million people and covers an area of 4.609,7 km². It is the largest metropolitan area in Spain and by one measure the fourth largest in European Union and the 45th largest in the world.

As with many metropolitan areas of similar size, two distinct zones of urbanisation can be distinguished:

The largest suburbs are to the South, and in general along the main routes leading out of Madrid.

Submetropolitan areas

Madrid submetropolitan areas

A new project, has stated there are more submetropolitan areas inside Madrid metropolitan area:

Submetropolitan area
Madrid - Majadahonda 996.1 3,580,828 3,595.0
Móstoles 315.1 430,349 1,365.6
Fuenlabrada - Leganés - Getafe - Parla - Pinto - Valdemoro 931.7 822,806 883.1
Alcobendas 266.4 205,905 772.9
Arganda del Rey - Rivas-Vaciamadrid 343.6 115,344 335.7
Alcalá de Henares - Torrejón de Ardoz 514.6 360,380 700.3
Colmenar Viejo - Tres Cantos 419.1 104,650 249.7
Collado Villalba 823.1 222,769 270.6
Madrid metropolitan area 4,609.7 5,843,031 1,267.6


Buildings in Gran Via
Red de San Luis
Ramales Square

Although the site of Madrid has been occupied since prehistoric times, the first historical data that concerns the city dates from the middle of the ninth Century, when Mohammad I ordered the construction of a small palace (site occupied now by the Palacio Real). Around this palace there was built a small citadel (al-Mudaina). The palace was built overlooking the River Manzanares, which the Muslims called Mayrit meaning source of water (which in turn became Magerit, and then eventually Madrid). The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Alfonso VI in his advance towards Toledo. He reconsecrated the mosque as the church of the Virgin of Almudena (almudin, the garrison's granary), now the Catedral de la Almudena. In 1329 the Cortes first assembled in Madrid to advise Fernando IV. Jews and Moors continued to live in the city in their quarter, still known today as the "Moreria", until they were expelled. The Royal Palace of Madrid and the buildings and monuments of the Paseo del Prado (Salón del Prado and Alcalá Gate) deserve special mention. They were constructed in a sober Baroque international style, often mistaken for neoclassical, by the Bourbon kings. Plans for the construction of a new cathedral for Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena began in the 16th century, but the slow construction did not begin until 1879. Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, was the architect who designed and directed the construction in a Gothic revival style. Construction ceased completely during the Spanish Civil War. The project was abandoned until 1950, when Fernando Chueca Goitia adapted the plans of de Cubas to a neoclassical style exterior to match the grey and white façade of the Palacio Real, which stands directly opposite. and was not completed until 1993, when the cathedral was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. On Calle Princesa, in the heart of the district of Moncloa, lies el Ejército del Aire, the headquarters of the Spanish Air Force. A scaled-down replica of the famous Monastery San Lorenzo del Escorial which lies about 50 kilometers northeast of Madrid, el Ejército del Aire is a classic example of Fascist Neoclassicism in Madrid.

The financial district in downtown Madrid between the streets Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Orense, General Perón and Paseo de la Castellana, its original conception (and its name) to the "Plan General de Ordenación Urbana de Madrid", approved in 1946. The purpose of this plan was to create a huge block of modern office buildings with metro and railway connections in the expansion area of northern Madrid, just in front of Real Madrid stadium (currently named the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium) and beside the brand new government complex of Nuevos Ministerios. A botanical garden, a library and an opera house were also included in the plans, but these were never built. Cuatro Torres Business Area is a business park that was completed in 2008. This block contains the tallest skyscrapers in Madrid and Spain (Torre Espacio, Torre de Cristal, Torre Sacyr Vallehermoso and Torre Caja Madrid).

Madrid Barajas International Airport Terminal 4, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers (winning them the 2006 Stirling Prize), and TPS Engineers, (winning them the 2006 IStructE Award for Commercial Structures) was inaugurated on February 5, 2006. Terminal 4 is one of the world's largest terminal areas, with an area of 760,000 square meters (8,180,572 square feet) in two separate terminals. Consisting of a main building, T4 (470,000 square meter), and satellite building, T4S (290,000 square meter), which are separated by approximately 2.5 km. Hong Kong International Airport still holds the title for the world's largest single terminal building (Terminal 1) at 570,000 square meter. The new Terminal 4 is meant to give passengers a stress-free start to their journey. This is managed through careful use of illumination, available by glass panes instead of walls and numerous domes in the roof which allow natural light to pass through. With the new addition, Barajas is designed to handle 70 million passengers annually.


Capricho Park, detail
Calle de Preciados decorated for Christmas season
Plaza de Canalejas

Madrid is full of green spaces and parkland; in central Madrid the largest park is Parque del Retiro, spreading out to the north-east of Atocha Railway station. The station is the core centre for high-speed AVE trains, with current lines to Valladolid (North-West), Barcelona (North-East) and Seville (South).

Madrid has many trees, both in parks and on the streets, with about 500,000. In 2005, the city had 300,000 and only Tokyo had more trees (100,000 more), but also had three times more population than Madrid.

Parque del Retiro, formerly the grounds of the palace built for Felipe IV, is Madrid’s most popular park. Its large lake in the middle once staged mini naval sham battles to amuse royalty; these days the more tranquil pastime of pleasure boating is popular. Inspired by London’s crystal palace, the palacio de cristal can be found at the south-eastern end of the park.

In the Retiro Park is also the Forest of the Departed (Spanish Bosque de los Ausentes), a memorial monument to commemorate the 191 victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks.

Atocha Railway Station is not only the city’s first and most central station but also home to a distinctive indoor garden with 4,000 square meters of tropical plants. Atocha station has become a hothouse destination in itself for plant lovers, with more than 500 species of plant life and ponds with turtle and goldfish in, as well as shops and cafes. It's a nice place to visit on a cold or wet day with its even temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, or even on a scorching summer day as a retreat from the heat.

Casa de Campo is an enormous rural parkland to the west of the city, the largest of all Madrid’s green areas. It is home to a fairground, the Madrid Zoo and an outdoor municipal pool, to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the park and city take a cable car trip above the tree tops.

The Royal Botanic Garden or Real Jardin Botanico was an 18th century creation by Carlos III, it was used as a base for the plant species being collected across the globe. There is an important research facility that started life as a base to develop herbal remedies and to house the species collected from the new-world trips, today it is dedicated to maintaining Europe’s ecosystem.

The pioneering ecological theme park Faunia,[21] is a natural history museum and zoo combined, aimed at being fun and educational for children. It comprises eight eco-systems from tropical rain forests to polar regions, and contains over 1,500 animals, some of which roam freely.


Over the last 15 years until 2009, the cost of living increased in Madrid. The city has grown to become the 22nd most expensive city in the world in 2008, the highest any Spanish city has ever featured. Although Madrid is still at 80.7% of New York, dramatic rises since 2005 show that Madrid could easily be challenging the cities higher above the ranks very soon.[22]


Year Municipality Community  %
1897 542,739 730,807 74.27
1900 575,675 773,011 74.47
1910 614,322 831,254 73.90
1920 823,711 1,048,908 78.53
1930 1,041,767 1,290,445 80.73
1940 1,322,835 1,574,134 84.04
1950 1,553,338 1,823,418 85.19
1960 2,177,123 2,510,217 86.73
1970 3,120,941 3,761,348 82.97
1981 3,158,818 4,686,895 67.40
1991 3,010,492 4,647,555 64.78
2001 2,938,723 5,423,384 54.19
2005 3,155,359 5,964,143 52.90
2006 3,128,600 6,008,183 52.07
2007 3,132,463 6,081,689 51.51
2008 3,213,271 6,271,638 51.23
Source: INE

The population of Madrid generally increased from when the city became the national capital in the mid-16th century and stabilised at about 3 million from the 1970s.

From around 1970 until the mid 1990s, the city's population dropped. This phenomenon, which also affected other European cities, was caused in part by the growth of satellite suburbs at the expense of the downtown. Another reason might have been the slowdown in the rate of growth of the European economy.

The demographic boom accelerated in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to international immigration, in response to a surge in Spanish economic growth. According to census data, the population of the city grew by 271,856 between 2001 and 2005.

As the capital city of Spain, the city has attracted many immigrants from around the world. About 83.8% of the inhabitants are Spaniards, while people of other origins, including immigrants from Latin America, Europe, Asia, North Africa and West Africa, represented 16.2% of the population in 2007.[23]

The ten largest immigrant groups include: Ecuadorian: 104,184, Romanian: 52,875, Bolivian: 44,044, Colombian: 35,971, Peruvian: 35,083, Chinese: 34,666, Moroccan: 32,498, Dominican: 19,602, Brazilian: 14,583, and Paraguayan: 14,308. There are also important communities of Filipinos, Equatorial Guineans, Bulgarians, Indians, Italians, Argentines, Nicaraguans, French, Senegalese and Poles.[23]


See also: List of mayors of Madrid

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón

The new democracy heralded a successful movement towards increased autonomy for the regions of Spain, considered as autonomous regions, under the umbrella of Spain.

The City Council consists of 57 members, one of them being the Mayor, currently Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón Jiménez. The Mayor presides over the Council. In the 2007 regional and local elections, the conservative Popular Party obtained 34 seats, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) obtained 18, and United Left obtained 5.

The Plenary of the Council, is the body of political representation ( of the citizens in the municipal government. Some of its attributions are: fiscal matters, the election and deposition of the Mayor, the approval and modification of decrees and regulations, the approval of budgets, the agreements related to the limits and alteration of the municipal term, the services management, the participation in supramunicipal organizations, etc.[24] Nowadays, mayoral team consists of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and 8 Delegates; all of them form The Board of Delegates (the Municipal Executive Committee).[25]

Madrid has tended to be a stronghold of the People's Party, which has controlled the city's mayoralty since 1989.


Madrid is one of Spain's most popular destinations and is renowned for its large quantity of cultural attractions.


Madrid is considered one of the top European destinations concerning art museums. Best known is the Golden Triangle of Art, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising three museums. The most famous one is the Prado Museum, the most popular Golden Triangle of Art member known for such highlights as Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas and Francisco de Goya's La maja vestida and La maja desnuda. The other two museums are the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, established from a mixed private collection, and the Reina Sofia Museum. This is where Pablo Picasso's Guernica hangs, returning to Spain from New York after more than two decades.



The Gran Vía and Alcalá Street

Madrid is notable for its nightlife and night clubs. On weekends, Madrilenian youth are known for dancing all night long, stopping only to go home, take a shower, shave, and go to work.

AZCA and CTBA skyscrapers
Gran Vía (Madrid) 04.jpg
Gran Vía, one of Madrid's main commercial streets
Torrespaña with Madrid's Business Park in the background

What is also popular is the practice of meeting in parks or streets with friends and drinking alcohol together (this is called 'botellón', from 'botella', bottle), but in recent years, drinking in the street is punished with a fine and now young madrileños drink together all around the city instead of in better-known places. Many places host bands (concerts in Madrid[26]). Nightlife and young cultural awakening flourished after the death of Franco, especially during the 80s while Madrid's mayor Enrique Tierno Galván (PSOE) was in office, at this time is well-known the cultural movement called la movida and it initially gathered around Plaza del Dos de Mayo. Nowadays, the Malasaña area is known for its alternative scene. Some of the most popular night destinations include the neighbourhoods of: Bilbao, Tribunal, Alonso Martinez or Moncloa, together with Puerta del Sol area (including Opera and Gran Via, both adjacent to the popular square) and Huertas (barrio de Las Letras), destinations which are also filled with tourists day and night. The district of Chueca has also become a hot spot in the Madrilenian night life specially for gay population. Chueca is popularly known as the gay quarter, comparable to The Castro district in San Francisco.

Classical music and opera

The Auditorio Nacional de Música [27] is the main venue for classical music concerts in Madrid, is home to the Spanish National Orchestra, the Chamartín Symphony Orchestra [28] and the venue for the symphonic concerts of the Community of Madrid Orchestra and the Madrid Symphony Orchestra. It is also the principal venue for orchestras on tour playing in Madrid. The performs RTVE Symphony Orchestra at the Teatro Monumental.[29]

The Teatro Real is the main opera house in Madrid and its resident orchestra is the Madrid Symphony Orchestra.[30] The Teatro de la Zarzuela is mainly devoted to Zarzuela (the Spanish traditional musical theatre genre), as well as operetta and recitals.[31][32] The resident orchestra of the theatre is the Community of Madrid Orchestra.

Other concert venues for classical music are the Fundación Joan March and the Auditorio 400, devoted to contemporary music.


Madrid hosts the largest Plaza de Toros (bullring) in Spain, Las Ventas, established in 1929. Las Ventas is considered by many to be the world centre of bullfighting and has a seating capacity of almost 25,000. Madrid's bullfighting season begins in March and ends in October. Bullfights are held every day during the festivities of San Isidro (Madrid's patron saint) from the middle of March to the middle of June, and every Sunday, and public holiday, the rest of the season. The style of the plaza is Neomudéjar. Las Ventas also hosts music concerts and other events outside of the bullfighting season.

Local festivities

  • May 15, San Isidro Labrador (Madrid's patron saint).
  • June 13, San Antonio de la Florida.
  • July 16–25, Virgen del Carmen festivities (Patron saint of the sea).
  • August 6–14, Virgen de la Paloma festivities (Madrid's patron saint)
  • August 7, San Cayetano (Cascorro neighbourhood's patron saint).
  • August 10, San Lorenzo (Lavapiés neighbourhood's patron saint).
  • November 9, Virgen de la Almudena festivities (Madrid's patron saint).


The Santiago Bernabéu in a Real Madrid-Atlético match, the most famous football derby inside the city.

Madrid is home to Real Madrid, who play in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Their supporters are referred to as vikingos, Vikings, or, more commonly, merengues, meringues. Real Madrid is one of the most prestigious football clubs in the world, having won a record 9 European Cups. Their hometown rivals, Atlético Madrid, are also well supported in the city. The players (and supporters) are referred to as colchoneros, mattresses, in reference to the teams red & white jerseys having been determined by mattress material being the cheapest at the time of the club's formation. They are also called indios, (Indians) because of the stripped jerseys reminds the warrior Indian paint in many Hollywood westerns. Madrid's contribution to the sport is further noticed by the fact that it hosted the 1982 FIFA World Cup final. Along with Barcelona, Glasgow and Lisbon Madrid is one of four cities in Europe to contain two UEFA 5-star stadia: Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu and Atlético Madrid's Vicente Calderón both meet the criteria.

Some of Spain's top footballers are Madrileños, including Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueño and co (La Quinta del Buitre, "The Vulture's Cohort"), Liverpool's Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres and Real Madrid veterans Raúl González, Guti Hernandez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas.

Madrid also boasts a prominent place in Spanish basketball, with two clubs in the country's top-level Liga ACB. Real's basketball section has won the European championship more times than any other club, and is also a fixture in the modern version of that competition, the Euroleague.

The city is also host to the Circuito Permanente Del Jarama, a motorsport race circuit which formerly hosted the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix. Historically, the city serves as the last stage of the Vuelta a España cyclist classic in the same way as Paris does in the Tour de France.

Skiing is possible in the nearby mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama, where the ski resorts of Valdesqui and Navacerrada are located.

The city bid to host the 1972 Summer Olympics, the 2012 Summer Olympics, and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which were lost to Munich, London, and Rio de Janeiro respectively.


State Education in Spain is free, and compulsory from 6 to 16 years. The current education system is called LOGSE (Ley de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo).[33]


Madrid is home to a large number of public and private universities. The Autonomous University of Madrid is the number one ranked public university in Spain, and was instituted under the leadership of the physicist, Nicolás Cabrera. Known simply as la Autónoma in Madrid, its main site is the Cantoblanco Campus, situated 10 miles (16 km) to the northeast of the capital (M-607) and close to the municipal areas of Madrid, namely Alcobendas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Tres Cantos and Colmenar Viejo.

Another university is the Complutense University of Madrid founded in 1293, which is one of the oldest universities in the world. It has 10,000 staff members and a student population of 117,000. It is located on two campuses, in the university quarter Ciudad Universitaria at Moncloa in Madrid, and in Somosaguas.[34]

Other universities in Madrid: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (public), Polytechnic University of Madrid (public), Universidad Pontificia Comillas (private), Rey Juan Carlos University (public), Universidad Alfonso X, Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, Universidad Camilo José Cela, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Universidad Europea de Madrid, Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca Campus de Madrid, Saint Louis University Madrid Campus and Universidad San Pablo CEU (all of them private).

Madrid is also home to the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid and many other private educational institutions.

Business Schools

IE Business School (formerly Instituto de Empresa) has its main campus on the border of the Chamartín and Salamanca districts of Madrid. IE Business School recently ranked #1 in WSJ's 2009 rankings for Best MBA Programs under 2 years. It scored ahead of usual stalwarts, INSEAD and IMD, giving it top billing amongst International MBA programs. Although based in Barcelona, both IESE Business School and ESADE Business School also have Madrid campuses. These three schools are the top-ranked business schools in Spain, consistently rank among the top 20 business schools globally, and offer MBA programs (in English or Spanish) as well as other business degrees. Other Madrid universities that have MBA programs include:



Madrid Barajas Airport (T4 Station)

Madrid is served by Barajas Airport. Barajas is the main hub of Iberia Airlines. It consequently serves as the main gateway to the Iberian peninsula from Europe, America and the rest of the world. Current passenger volumes range upwards of 52 million passengers per year, putting it in the top 20 busiest airports in the world.[35] Given annual increases close to 10%, a new fourth terminal has been constructed. It has significantly reduced delays and doubled the capacity of the airport to more than 70 million passengers per year. Two additional runways have also been constructed, making Barajas a fully operational four-runway airport.

The Councillor of Transports of the Community of Madrid, Manuel Lamela, announced in 2007 that the city will also be served by two new airports which are expected to be fully operative in 2016, the first of which will be located in Campo Real, it will be initially be used for cargo flights, but also as hub for low-cost carriers, and the second one, expected to be built between the two municipalities of El Álamo and Navalcarnero, which will only take over the routes operating in Cuatro Vientos Airport

National rail

Madrid Metro Map

Spain's railway system, the Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles (Renfe) operates the vast majority of Spain's railways. In Madrid, the main rail terminals are Atocha in the south and Chamartín in the north.

The most important project in the next decade is the Spanish high speed rail network, Alta Velocidad Española AVE. Currently, an ambitious plan includes the construction of a 7,000 kilometre (4,350 mi) network, centred on Madrid. The overall goal is to have all important provincial cities be no more than 4 hours away from Madrid, and no more than 6 hours away from Barcelona. As of 2008, AVE high-speed trains link Atocha station to Seville, Málaga and Toledo in the south and to Zaragoza, Lleida, Tarragona and Barcelona in the east. AVE trains also arrive from Valladolid and Segovia.

RENFE offers:


A modern metro train (type 8000).

Serving a population of some four million, the Madrid Metro is one of the most extensive and fastest-growing metro networks in the world.[36] With the addition of a loop serving suburbs to Madrid's south-west "Metrosur", it is now the second largest metro system in Western Europe, second only to London's Underground. In 2007 Madrid's metro system was expanded and it currently runs over 283 kilometers (176 miles) of line. The province of Madrid is also served by an extensive commuter rail network of 370 kilometers (230 miles) called Cercanías.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Madrid is twinned with:[37]

Partner cities

Other historic buildings


  1. ^ "Los fuegos que conmocionaron Madrid" (in spanish). 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2008-08-13.  (Spanish)
  2. ^ D. Ramón de Mesonero Romanos (1881). "El antiguo Madrid : paseos históricos-anedócticos por las calles y casas de esta villa". in Oficinas de la Ilustración Española y Americana. Retrieved 2008-08-13.  (Spanish)
  3. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Statistics Institute)
  4. ^ "World Urban Areas: Population & Density" (PDF). Demographia. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  5. ^ Eurostat,, accessed on 2009-03-12. Data for 2004.
  6. ^ Thomas Brinkoff, Principal Agglomerations of the World, accessed on 2009-03-12. Data for 2009-01-01.
  7. ^ United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, World Urbanization Prospects (2007 revision), (United Nations, 2008), Table A.12. Data for 2007.
  8. ^ "Madrid". July 10, 2006. 
  9. ^ DeCarlo, Scott (2006-03-30). "The World's 2000 Largest Public Companies". Forbes. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  10. ^ "Madrid: mmmm". Easy expat. August 11, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Indicadores Socioeconómicos: Comunidad de Madrid". Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas. August 11, 2006. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "El Madrid Medieval (Medieval Madrid). Includes Pre-historic, roman and medieval up to the Catholic Monarchs times." (in Spanish). History of Madrid.. José Manuel Castellanos. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  13. ^ "Madrid History - Museums - Suggested Itineraries Madrid". Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  14. ^ "El origen del nombre.". JLL & JRP. August 16, 2006. 
  15. ^ Pre-historic times in Madrid (Spanish Only)
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Madrid, de territorio fronterizo a región metropolitana. Madrid, from being the "frontier" to become a Metropole." (in Spanish). History of Madrid.. Luis Enrique Otero Carvajal (Profesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea. Universidad Complutense. Madrid). Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  17. ^ "Climate in Madrid". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  18. ^ Mediterranean
  19. ^ Wunderground Forecast for Spain
  20. ^ "Weather Information for Madrid". 
  21. ^ "Faunia - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre" (in (Spanish)). 2010-01-12. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  22. ^ "World's most expensive cities in 2008 - Ranking". City Mayors. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  23. ^ a b Foreign Population in the city of madrid. A study by the Dirección General de Estadística of the municipality of Madrid
  24. ^ Pleno de Madrid (Spanish Only)
  25. ^ Local Government Organization (Spanish Only)
  26. ^ Mondosonoro - Bandas en Madrid
  27. ^ "Auditorio Nacional de Música". Time Out. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  28. ^ "Orquesta Sinfónica Chamartín-Historia (in Spanish)". Orquesta Sinfónica Chamartín. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  29. ^ "La Orquesta Sinfónica (in Spanish)". RTVE. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  30. ^ "Teatro Real (Timeout Madrid)". Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  31. ^ History of the Teatro de la Zarzuela
  32. ^ Teatro de la Zarzuela - Timeout Madrid
  33. ^ Sistema Educativo LOE by the Spanish Ministry of Education(Spanish Only)
  34. ^ "Universidad Complutense". Missouri-St. Louis University. July 10, 2006. 
  35. ^ Preliminary Air Traffic Results for 2006 from Airports Council International
  36. ^ "Madrid Metro". Robert Schwandl. August 17, 2006. 
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Madrid city council webpage "Mapa Mundi de las ciudades hermanadas". Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Madrid city council webpage. 
  38. ^ "Sister Cities". Beijing Municipal Government. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  39. ^ "Berlin's international city relations". Berlin Mayor's Office. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  40. ^ "Sister Cities of Manila". © 2008-2009 City Government of Manila. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  41. ^ "NYC's Sister Cities". Sister City Program of the City of New York. 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  42. ^ "Twinning Cities: International Relations" (PDF). Municipality of Tirana. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  43. ^ "International Relations: Special Partners". Mairie De Paris. 

Coordinates: 40°24′N 3°41′W / 40.4°N 3.683°W / 40.4; -3.683

See also

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Madrid article)

From Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see Madrid (disambiguation).
Madrid's Town Hall (Palacio de Telecomunicaciones) in Cibeles square
Madrid's Town Hall (Palacio de Telecomunicaciones) in Cibeles square

Madrid [1] is the capital of Spain, as well as the capital of the autonomous community of the same name (Comunidad de Madrid). It is Spain's largest city, with a population (city) of 3.228 million (July 2005) and 5.843 million (metropolitan area). Madrid is best known for its great cultural and artistic heritage, a good example of which is the El Prado museum. Madrid also boasts some of the liveliest nightlife in the world.



Madrid is located a little north east from the geographical center of the Iberian Peninsula, in the middle of the Spanish central Castillian plateau (Meseta central), at an average altitude of 650m. Nearly all of the most famous tourist areas are located in the historical center of Madrid, middle south of the city: Puerta del Sol in the middle, Plaza Mayor a bit to the south, Palacio Real to the west, and Plaza de Colón to the north-east. Some of those hot spots spread up past the Gran Via, which is one of the main streets in Madrid (the largest one being Alcalá Street, followed by the Paseo de la Castellana).


The climate of Madrid is continental; mainly dry and quite extreme at times, with frequent rain in winter. Madrid sees perpetual sunshine and a characteristically hot temperature in the summer, but with a fairly cold temperature in the winter. Spring and autumn are fairly temperate with most rainfall concentrated in these seasons, together with winter. Spring is definitely the best time to visit, especially the months of April, May and June. Rainfall occurs sporadically, and snowfall is not something that happens every year in the city, but there is abundant snowfall in the adjacent mountain ranges nearby.

Royal Palace
Royal Palace

The culture of Madrid was dominated by its religious and Royal history. Enormous, monolithic cathedrals and churches are plentiful in Madrid, as well as medieval architecture, although nowadays Madrid is just as much a cosmopolitan city as Berlin or London, full of new architecture, life style and culture.

Madrid was also the capital of the Franquist dictatorship (1939-1975) and the city still seems to represent a conservative part of Spain to many Spaniards. However, the city is also the epicentre of the famous Movida, Spain's 80s movement that bred personalities such as the director Pedro Almodóvar. The heritage of this era is indeed still visible in the city centre, where a party can be found at all times and one of the most liberal and colourful environments of Spain can be seen. The city centre is also known for its great gay tolerance.

The citizens of Madrid, who refer to themselves as Madrileños or the more traditional and currently seldom used term "gatos" (cats), live by a daily routine that is heavily influenced by the climate. Due to the typically extreme midday heat, a "siesta" is observed during which some citizens take a break to cool off, though Madrileños can usually only afford this 'luxury' during holidays and weekends. Most stores are open during all the day, just small stores are often closed during this time. Workers and those more afflicted by Western lifestyles choose not to observe this long break and work traditional business hours, which are usually between 9AM and 6-7PM. During summer many offices, however, will have a summer schedule requiring workers to start at 8am and finish at 3pm (most commonly without the standard 1-2 hour break for lunch). Offices usually close during the weekend but businesses are often open Saturday morning (downtown stays open until afternoon). Most grocers are closed on Sundays, but some major chain and department stores linked to "culture" (books, music, etc.) will be open throughout the day and all of them on the first Sunday of the month. Madrid possibly has the largest number of bars per capita of any European city and a very active nightlife; Madrileños are known to stay up until as late as 5AM-7AM. It is quite common to see a crowded Gran Via on weekend nights. It is important to note that, due to this lifestyle, lodging located near the fun areas may end up a nightmare for light sleepers if your window matches the street.

Madrid has a very modernized and elaborate transportation network of buses and Metro. The city contrasts with some large European cities in that it is extremely clean, and city employees in bright yellow vests can almost always be seen cleaning the streets and sidewalks. Like most large cities, however, there is a substantial population of vagrants and beggars lining the streets.

Madrid is one of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. Communities of West Africans, North Africans, other Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Pakistanis and (especially) Latin Americans are prominent.

Some popular districts are:

Malasaña— Alternative area, full of all kind of people hanging out at pubs, bars, cafes, squares and small shops. Mainly rock and punk music, some of them still open from "La movida madrileña" (beginning of 80's).

Chueca— By Malasaña and Gran Via, it is the gay district (although noone is ever excluded) with a very strong personality. New design, trendy shops, cool cafes. Pop and electronic music.

Lavapies— Lavapies is maybe the most cosmopolitan and hippy area at the same time in Madrid. Indian restaurants, alternative coffees, African music and South American shops. Walking around for a coffee is well worth it.

La Latina— By Lavapies, it is the place to go for tapas and full of bohemian young people looking for stylish bars. It hosts the most popular flea market in Madrid, every Sunday morning.

Salamanca— Plenty of expensive boutiques, uniques shops with impossible prices and department stores.

Moncloa— Due to proximity to the main University in Madrid (Universidad Complutense), Moncloa is associated with students and a student lifestyle.

Barrio de las Letras / Huertas— Many of Spains most famous writers lived there (Cervantes, Quevedo, etc.). It is among Lavapies, Puerta del Sol and Paseo del Prado. It is an area full of history and interesting buildings and is also well-known because of its concentration of bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is Barajas International Airport (IATA: MAD), 902 404 704, [2]. About 15-20 minutes from Madrid. It is connected to the city by the Metro line eight. Taxis from the airport to the city center cost about €25. In February 2006, a huge new terminal building, designed by Britain's Richard Rogers and Spain's Antonio Lamela, was inaugurated at Barajas. All One World alliance flights depart from the new Terminal 4 (T4) as well as the low cost carrier Vueling and other unaffiliated carriers. The Metro connection between the airport (and the new T4 terminal) and the rest of the system has been finished. There is a supplement of €1 on the regular metro ticket (that also costs €1) for the airport line. Bus services run from the remaining terminals to T4 and there are additional bus services running from the center of Madrid (Plaza Colón and Avenida de América). There are plans for a commuter train link from Atocha and Chamartín to the airport. Two smaller airports, Torrejón and Cuatro Vientos, also serve the city.

Tropical garden in Atocha
Tropical garden in Atocha

Not only is Madrid the capital of Spain, but it is also the hub of the country's rail network. Major routes include frequent trains to Barcelona on the east coast (2 h 40 min journey), where it is possible to continue on to the French coast, and to Paris to the north with access to most of the rest of Europe.

Main connections between Madrid and other European cities include:

  • Portugal— Direct train from Madrid to Lisbon , but also a train from Irún to Lisbon via Madrid.
  • Switzerland— Train to Zurich via Barcelona.
  • Italy— Train to Milan via Barcelona.

Spain's high-speed train (AVE - Alta Velocidad de España) makes the Madrid-Seville run in two and a half hours. The AVE line to Barcelona is ready now and the journey takes 2 h 40 min.

Northbound trains arrive and depart from Chamartín station, while trains to Barcelona, Valencia and southern Spain depart from Atocha railway station.

There is more information available at Spanish Railway System Renfe [3] (+34 902-240-202).

By bus

Madrid has eight enormous international and intercity bus stations. Information on where buses to a particular destination depart from can be found at the Tourist Office.

Many of the international buses, and those headed south of Madrid, arrive at and depart from Estación Sur de Autobuses (Calle de Mendez Alvaro, Tel:+34 91-468-4200 [4]) which is connected to the rest of the city by metro. Buses to and from Barcelona and Bilbao are based from the Avenida de America bus terminal (Ave. de America), also connected to the Metro.

By car

There are car rental facilities available on the airport, train stations and other main travel sites. Always be sure to have a street map handy! The roads within Madrid are difficult to navigate as there are no places to stop and consult a map or check your route.

Also, if you are relying on GPS navigation, be aware that there are several consecutive junctions underground near the centre and your GPS won't have a signal to direct you. Plan your turnings before you enter the tunnels.

Get around

Public Transport

Buses and subways form an integrated network [5] and work with the same tickets. A single ticket is one euro, a ten trip ticket is 7,40 euros, and there are tourist passes: 1 (€5.20), 2 (€8.80), 3 (€11.60), 5 (€17.60), or 7 (€23.60) days. Children under 11 have a 50% discount. Tickets at Metro stations, news-stands, and estancos (tobacconists').

By metro

The Metro de Madrid [6] (Madrid's Subway/Underground) is one of the best and cheapest working metros in Europe. Also, the underground tunnels of the Metro provide relief from the sun on particularly hot days. Stamping the ticket one time allows you to use the Metro network as long and far as you like - make sure you stay inside the Metro zone, once you leave it, you'll have to stamp your ticket again. When you travel to or from airport stations, there is additional fee of €1, which can be paid at the entrance (exit) - except Metro passes (Metrobús or tourist pass). You can catch some trains as late as 2:00 am.

Nights before Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays have a night bus (MetroBúho) service on the same routes as the Metro lines, from rougly 01:00 AM to 05:30 AM. Stops for these lines are sometimes not in obvious places, especially in the pedestrian areas in the city center.

By bus

Whatever the Metro doesn't cover, the buses do.

Night buses (Búhos, "night owls"), have their main hub at Plaza de Cibeles [7], covering most of the city at roughly 20 minutes intervals.

By taxi

Taxis can be short on party nights, especially if there is some rain. Unlike in other European cities, there are few taxi ranks; just stand by the side of a major road or bus stop and wave your hand for a free taxi passing by. Available taxis have a green libre sign in the windshield and a green light on top.

Official taxis are white, and have a red stripe and the flag of Madrid on the front door. The tariff is displayed on top of the car (a 1 during daytime, a 2 during the night, which become 2 and 3 on holidays such as Christmas Eve).

There are also special surcharges if you go to the airport, like a surcharge for the bags and for entering or leaving the airport. Ask for the written table of tariffs and charges (suplementos) (shown on small stickers on rear windows, compulsory by law) before paying if you think it's too expensive. A normal ride to/from the airport with luggage should be about 25€.

By car

Transportation by private automobile in Madrid can be very difficult. The Spanish capital suffers from the typical problems of most big cities; far too many cars and not enough space to accommodate them. Sometimes there can even be traffic jams in the Paseo de la Castellana at three o'clock in the morning (then again, three in the morning is early to some Madrileños). The problem is compounded by the narrow streets in the old town, where a lorry delivering beer barrels to a local bar can cause a huge tailback. Looking for a place to park your car can be very time consuming, and difficult if one is not skilled in the art of close proximity parallel parking. Many Spaniards are also lacking in this art, prompting them to simply park in the street, blocking other cars in. If you find yourself blocked in by such a practice, honk your horn until the driver returns. If you parallel park your car in Madrid, be very aware that most Madrileños park by sound alone. They will feel no remorse for repeatedly hitting the car in front and behind them while trying to get into or out of a tight spot. If you value your car's paint job, or you have rented a car, it may be best to park underground. Though this is no guarantee for nobody hitting your car, the chances are somewhat diminished.

On the other hand, travel by car can be advantageous; going home by car on weekends is, of course depending where you live, usually faster than by public transport.

El Retiro
El Retiro

Riding a bicycle in Madrid is quite dangerous because there is no reserved section of the road for bikers, and drivers are not used to seeing bicycles in the city. This is due to Madrid not being a flat city so Madrileños do not see travel by bike as being practical. The Metro limits the times when a bicycle can be carried on it. However, Madrid is not totally devoid of bicyclists- Madrid bikers can often be seen riding in El Retiro, Madrid's second largest park. Enjoy the nature or do some sport, but note that the parks are considered dangerous after the sun sets. At tourist offices you can get a map with the bicycle paths. The paths have been built the past few years to try and promote bicycling.


While knowledge of the English language is increasing amongst the younger generations, the majority of Madrid's residents know only a few words - even employees at U.S. franchised businesses such as McDonald's and employees at cash exchange centers rarely speak much English. You can often find someone with a fair grasp of English at larger hotels and tourism sites, but it would nevertheless be helpful to know at least a few common Spanish words and phrases.

The northern entrance to Prado
The northern entrance to Prado
  • Museo del Prado, Paseo de Prado s/n, +34 90 2107077, Metro:Atocha or Banco de España, Bus lines 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37 and 45 [8]. Tu-Su: 9AM-8PM, Closed M and some holidays. Tickets €8, students, children, etc. €4, free: Tu-Sa 6PM-8PM and every Su 5PM-8PM. One of the finest art collections in the world and the best collection of classical art in Madrid. Includes many different collections: the Spanish (El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya), the Flemish and Dutch (Rubens, van Dyck, and Brueghel), Italian (Botticelli, Tintoretto Caravaggio, and Veronese) and German (Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, and Baldung Grien). Some highlights not to miss at the Prado:
    • The Bosch masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights.
    • The famous Velazquez piece Las Meninas.
    • The Black Paintings of Goya.
    • The Third of May 1808 also by Goya.
    • Adoration of the Shepards by El Greco.
    • David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio.
  • Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center, Santa Isabel 52, 28012 Madrid, metro Atocha.), +34 91 7741000 (fax: +34 91 7741056), [9]. Mo-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-2:30PM. Houses Madrid's best collection of modern art. It includes many of Pablo Picasso's most revered works including the renowned Guernica. The Reina Sofía also houses masterpieces by Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, Bacon, and more. €6, free Saturday from 2:30PM till 9PM, Sunday from 10AM till 2:30PM.  edit
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art, [10]. Opens from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10AM-7PM. The ticket office closes at 6:30PM. The Museum is closed all day on 1 Jan, 1 May, and 25 Dec. Contains a large art collection including masterpieces by Monet, Goya, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Bacon and Lichtenstein. Tickets are about €6.  edit
Dama de Elche: Iberian (preRoman) fertility goddess statue
Dama de Elche: Iberian (preRoman) fertility goddess statue
  • National Archeology Museum, C/ Serrano 13, Metro: Serrano, +34 91 5777912 [11]. Hours Tu-Sa: 9:30AM-5PM, Sun and Holidays 9:30AM-3PM, Price: About €3, Free entry Saturday afternoons (after 2:30PM) and Sundays. Don't let the sound of it frighten you. This well designed museum houses an incredible collection of archaeological finds from across the peninsula. It leaves the visitor with a sense of the chronology of civilization in Spain (Iberian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Visagoth, Arab, and into the modern age). The famous Dama de Elche, an Iberian (pre-Roman) fertility goddess statue, is in this museum. There are also a few pieces from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It is currently undergoing renovations and is open with limited exhibits. Closed: M; Jan 1 and 6; May 1 and 15; Dec 24, 25, and 31. (Holidays: Apr 5 and 6, May 2, Aug 15, Oct 12, Nov 1 and 9, Dec 6 and 8.)
  • Museo de Lazaro Galdiano, C/ Serrano 122, Metro: Gregorio Mariñon, +34 91 5616084 [12]. Hours W-M: 10AM-4:30PM. Entry €4, free on Sundays. This museum houses the stunning collection of Spanish entrepreneur José Lázaro Galdiano (1862-1947) and is considered to be one of the best private collections in Spain. Not only will you find works by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and others, the museum is also filled with jewelry, furniture, sculpture and ceramics. This is an excellent museum that is usually not crowded and well worth the price of admission. Closed: Tu; Jan 1; Easter Thursday and Friday; May 2 and 3; Nov 1; Dec 6 and 25.
  • Real Academia de Bella Artes de San Fernando, C/ Alcalá 13, +34 91 5240864, Fax +34 91 5231599, Metro: Sevilla or Banco de España [13]. Hours Tu-Fr: 9:30AM-7PM, Sa-M: 9:30-4:30PM. Entry €3, students €1.50, free W, free for children and seniors. Highly impressive art collection with paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Several Goya masterpieces.
  • Museo de América, Avda Reyes Católicos 6, Metro: Moncloa, +34 91 5492641 and 91 5439437 [14]. Hours Tu-Sa: 9:30AM-3PM, Su 10:00AM-3PM, Closed Mondays, Jan 1, May 1, Dec 24, 25, 31. Entry €3, students €1.50, free Su, free for seniors and children. An excellent museum that many tourists miss, this museo houses thousands of artifacts from the Americas. The exhibit displays objects from many native cultures from before European conquest to colonial times and beyond. Don't miss the Tesoro (Treasure) de los Químbayas a collection of gold objects that was given as a gift by the Colombian government. Also of interest is the Tudela Codex, an Aztec law book from the 1500's. Beware: most explications to the objects on display are in Spanish only.
  • Palacio Real, C/ Bailen s/n, +34 91 4548800, Metro: Opera [15]. M-Sa: 9AM-5PM, Sundays and holidays: 9AM-3PM, closed occasionally for official ceremonies. Entry €8, guided tour €11, students and children €3.5, free W for EU citizens. The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is an enormous palace, with scorching plains of concrete around it and the Real Armorial (Royal Armory), a two-story collection of medieval weapons and armor. Explications in the armory are in spanish only, so do not expect to understand much unless your know spanish names for all that medieval stuff. In spite of its name, the palace not the residence of the current royal family. The Royal Palace is considered to be one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid, not only for its location but also for its architecture and the artistic treasures to be found in its rooms. The façades of the palace measure 130 meters long and 33 meters high with 870 windows and 240 balconies opening on to the facades and courtyard. It has a surface area of 100,000 square meters with 44 stairways and more than 30 principal rooms. Also located within the palace is the Pharmacia, which contains hundreds of bottles of early medicines and a reconstructed laboratory.
  • Plaza Mayor, Metro:Sol or Opera. The best known plaza in Madrid, this impressive square is now one of the main stops on any tourist visit. Originally built outside the city walls, this square has played host to bullfights, markets, symphonies, tournaments and executions. The statue of Felipe II sits in the middle across from the beautifully painted Casa de la Panadería, the former headquarters of the bakers guild.
The famous bear statue at Puerta del Sol
The famous bear statue at Puerta del Sol
  • Puerta del Sol, Metro: Sol. This plaza is the "heart" of Madrid and one of the busiest places in the city. On the north side of the plaza there is a famous statue of an oso (bear) climbing the madroño tree, which is the symbol of Madrid. Also in Sol, just in front of the Capital building of the community of Madrid, is Kilometer Zero, a plaque showing the point where the measuring of national highways begins. Both the bear statue, and Km. Zero are common meeting spots for friends. The giant neon Tío Pepe sign above the plaza is also a famous fixture of this area. New Year’s celebrations are broadcast from Sol every year with the ringing of the clock bringing in the new year.
  • Atocha RENFE. (Metro: Atocha RENFE) A large train station across the street from the Reina Sofia Museum of Art. The interesting thing about it is the palm garden inside the old building, complete with a pond full of small turtles. It's free, and very much worth visiting.  edit
  • El Retiro, (Metro: Retiro, Ibiza or Atocha). Considered to be the "Central Park" of Madrid, the perfect place to take a rest during a sunny day, or take part in the drum circles around the statue of Alphonso XII on summer evenings. There is a large boating lake where one can hire a rowing boat - great fun for the children! There is a monument to the victims of the Madrid 3/11 terrorist bombings, the Forest of the Absent, and the Crystal Palace, a large structure entirely made of glass. Sunday afternoons in summer are a treat in the park, where young hippies play bongos and dance.
  • Catedral de la Almudena. This massive cathedral can be found facing the Palacio Real. Finished in the end of 20th century, it is where the Princes of Asturias Felipe and Letizia were married in 2004.
  • Gran Vía, (Metro:Gran Via, Callao, Plaza de España, Banco de España). Literally, "Broadway", Gran Via is one of the busiest avenues in Madrid, what you could call the main street of Madrid, and the location of the cinema district. The Gran Via is very similar to Times Square in New York City. Gran Via has a constant buzz of traffic and life. 3-4am early morning traffic jams are not unusual.
  • Plaza de Cibeles, (metro: Banco de España). Houses one of Madrid's emblems, the fountain of Cibeles, and one of the world's most beautiful post offices, Palacio de las Comunicaciones.
  • Plaza de España, (Metro: Plaza de España). Contains a sculpture of Cervantes and his famous Don Quixote and Sancho Panza characters.
  • Templo de Debod, Paseo del Pintor Rosales 2, +34 91 765108, Metro: Plaza de España [16]. Tue-Fri: 10AM - 2PM and 6PM - 8PM, Sat-Sun: 10PM- 2PM, closed Mondays and holidays. Free. An Egyptian temple, located in one of Madrid′s most beautiful parks. Near the Royal Palace and Plaza de España, it was a present given to Spain for its role in saving the temple of Abu Simbel from the floodwaters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan Dam in southern Egypt.
  • La Casa de Campo, (Metro: Lago, Casa de Campo, Batan). The park at the rear of the Palace (Palacio Real) which used to belong to the Royal family. Much of the park has been taken to smaller activity parks such as the Zoo but in general it's peaceful. From Moncloa you can take a teleferico across into the park.
  • CaixaForum, Paseo del Prado, 36 - Cultural Centre with free exhibitions and functions. Vertical garden by Patrick Blanc.


Vertical garden, CaixaForum
Vertical garden, CaixaForum
  • Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City), Calle Príncipe de Vergara 140 (Metro: Cruz del Rayo), +34-91-5886599, [18]. Mo: Closed Tu-Fr: 10am-2pm and 4-7pm Sa&Su: 10am-2pm.. With five floors it tells the city's history, since it was founded by the Arabs. There are models of some urban areas. Entry is free. (40.444657,-3.678288) edit
  • San Antonio de La Florida Hermitage. This small church is famous for its murals, painted by Goya. It's also the mausoleum of the painter.
  • Real Madrid Museum. Located in the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium, it showcases all the trophies of one of the most successful football clubs in the world. - Real Madrid.
  • Museo Sorolla This [19] is in what was the impressionist painter's house and features fine furniture and porcelain as well as his paintings.
  • Real Madrid [20] - For football fanatics, a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu, the home of local club Real Madrid is not to be missed. Real Madrid is the most successful football club in Spain and Europe, having been crowned Spanish champions a record 31 times and European champions a record 9 times. Their biggest rivals by far are FC Barcelona, with which it contests matches known popularly as El Clásico at least twice a year. The rivalry between the two sides is by far the biggest in Spain, and stems from the longstanding traditional rivalry between the Spanish and Catalan speaking parts of Spain. However, tickets for such matches often sell out very quickly.
  • Circulo de Bellas Artes Calle Marqués de Casa Riera 2, +34 91 5225092, metro Banco de España [21]. A non-profit cultural center located a short walk from Sol, the CBA offers up a wide variety of events and shows including film, music, art displays, dance, theater and more. Check out their website (in Spanish) for a listing of activities.
  • There are a number of free, English language periodicals that you will find in bars and restaurants that are a great source of event information. PopGuide Madrid is Madrid's premier English and German lifestyle magazine and features the best Madrid has to offer and the latest in film, fashion, music and art. [22] The InMadrid newspaper [23] comes out once a month and has a number of articles and information about events around town. Aimed at the 20-35-year-old crowd, European Vibe [24] has listings for concerts, exhibitions, bars, restaurants, parties and other events happening in Madrid as well as articles about living in the city. Check the websites for current distribution points.
  • Check out some Flamenco— Visit the Corral de la Moreria [25]. One of the most famous flamenco tablaos in the world. It′s right in the heart of the city, and you can enjoy a full fledged Spanish meal while you watch performances by renowned international flamenco music and dance artists.
  • Stroll on El Retiro— Madrid's biggest park near the Prado Museum and by Puerta Alcalá Monument, Madrid of the Hagsburgs (center of Madrid, where you can go out for tapas) and Paseo del Prado (a pedestrian walkway full of fountains and trees near the famous museum).
  • Go to the world class zoo. See the Pandas. Pet the Lemurs.
  • Have your portrait drawn in the Plaza Mayor. Generally very good quality and the prices are very reasonable.
  • La Transhumancia— A yearly festival (of sorts), in which the center of Madrid is traffic free and instead the streets are filled with shepherds exercising their ancient right to drive sheep and livestock through the city.
  • El Mercado de San Miguel— Sets the ambience of a traditional market, with the advantages of the new times. It's located at the San Miguel Plaza, Close to the west corner of Plaza Mayor. It has an Iron and Glass Structure from the XX Century. [26] Image:Mercado-san-miguel-2009.jpg
  • Get lost in the Museo del Prado.
  • Go shopping in Calle Fuencarral (trendy) or Salamanca district (posh)... it's up to you!
  • Eat a bocadillo de calamares (squid sandwich) near Plaza Mayor.
  • Struggle among the crowds in El Rastro on a sunny Sunday morning.
  • Go to a theater on Gran Via and enjoy a musical show.
  • Go for some tapas in La Latina (don't forget patatas bravas).
  • Spend an afternoon in El Retiro.
  • Get back to 16th century in Plaza de la Paja and surroundings.
  • See a sunset at the Templo de Debod.
  • Have a drink and dance in Malasaña district until dawn, then have a chocolate con churros breakfast.

(Now you are a madrileño!)

Music & concerts

If you are coming to Madrid and you want to see some live music, here are some of the major venues:

  • Sala Heineken, Princesa 1, +34 91 5476680, metro Plaza España [27]. National touring acts for rock and pop music.
  • La Riviera, Paseo Bajo de la Virgen, s/n, +34 91 3652415, metro Puerta del Angel (Line 6) or Principe Pío (Line 10) [28]. Another large venue for touring rock and pop bands.
  • Gruta 77, Calle Cuclillo, 6, +34 91 4712370, metro Oporto (Line 5 and 6) [29]. Concerts everyday; pop, rock, punk...

Classical & opera

If you are into classical and opera you will not be disappointed in Madrid:

  • The Spanish National Orchestra performs every Fri, Sat and Sun at the Auditorio Nacional on Calle Principe de Vergara. The Auditorio Nacional is also the main concert venue for the symphonic concerts of the Community of Madrid Orchestra and the Madrid symphony Orchestra and the main venue for touring classical artists and orchestras.
  • The main opera theatre is the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre).
  • The Spanish version of the Operetta (Zarzuela) is performed at the Teatro de la Zarzuela.
  • The Orquesta de Radio Televisión Española (the orchestra of the national broadcasting company) performs every Thu and Fri at the Teatro Monumental on Calle Atocha.
  • The main venue for contemporary music is the Auditorio 400 of the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.
  • Other venues include the Cuartel del Condeduque and the Foundation Joan March Auditorium.
  • During Summer the Banda Municipal de Madrid performs in El Retiro park.


No trip to Madrid would be complete without seeing a flamenco show, Spain's most passionatre art form:

  • Futbol / Football / Soccer— Three teams from Madrid play in La Liga (Spain's premier division):
  • Real Madrid [30] at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, metro Santiago Bernabeu.
  • Atletico de Madrid [31] at Vicente Calderón stadium.
  • Getafe Club de Futbol [32] at Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Also see Getafe.
  • Bullfighting at Las Ventas Bullring [33] (Metro Ventas). The birth place of bullfighting. Unless you find this spectacle distasteful, this is a must see if you visit Madrid during the bullfighting season (March to December). Tickets may nevertheless be expensive and hard to get for the more important corridas.
  • Basketball— There are two major teams, Estudiantes and Real Madrid.
  • Tennis. An important event held in mid-May (previously October) is the Madrid Tennis Master 1000 [34], where the best ATP and WTA tennis players participate. The event is held at La Caja Mágica, at the Camino de Perales s/n street (metro line 3, "San Fermin - Orcasur" station; bus numbers 23 - 78 - 123).

Movies and film

If you want to see films in English while visiting Madrid, there are a number of cinemas offering American and British films in the original language (along with films in other languages). These original films are denoted in the listings by a designation of "V.O." which stands for versión original. Cinemas in Madrid will sometimes have días del espectador (viewer days) with cheaper ticket prices. These are usually on Mondays or Wednesdays, check with the theater to find out if they offer them. Some of the V.O. theaters to check out are:

  • Yelmo Cineplex Ideal, Doctor Cortezo 6, +34 91 3692518, metro Sol [35]. Probably the best known V.O. theater in Madrid, it offers the largest selection of movies and is only a short walk from Sol.
  • Cine Doré, la Filmoteca Española, Calle Santa Isabel 3, +34 91 3691125, metro Anton Martín. This is a wonderful, old Spanish theater dating from the 1920's. It has three screens and shows mainly "art-house" and critically acclaimed films in V.O. for only €2.50. You can usually find their current schedule online here. In the summertime, they screen movies on the roof.
  • Princesa, Calle Princesa 3, +34 91 5414100, metro Plaza de España.
  • Renoir, Calle Martín de los Heroes 12, +34 91 5414100, metro Plaza de España.
  • Cines Golem Calle Martin de los Heroes 14, +34 91 5593836, metro Plaza de España.
  • Renoir Cuatro Caminos, Calle Raimundo Fernández Villaverde 10, +34 91 5414100, metro Cuatro Caminos.
  • Renoir Retiro, Calle Narvaez 42, +34 91 5414100, metro Ibiza.
  • PopEnglish [36] offers English, German, Italian, French, Swedish and Spanish courses for individuals and companies in Madrid.
  • Lingua [37] (central Madrid) offer various Spanish courses.
  • Learn Spanish [38] Spanish school near Puerta del Sol
  • Don Quijote [39] Spanish school in Madrid is a great school where you can take 4-6 hours of courses a day. All courses including beginner courses are taught entirely in Spanish.


Major credit cards and foreign bank cards are accepted in most stores, but be aware that it is common practice to be asked for photo-ID ("D.N.I."). If asked for your DNI present your passport, residency permit or foreign ID card. Basically anything with your photo and name on it will be accepted by most shopkeepers. The signatures on credit cards are usually not checked.

  • Sol-Salamanca districts. The most convenient area for tourists is around Calle de Preciados, between Sol and Gran Vía, home to the El Corte Inglés department store, high-street names like Zara, Gran Vía 32, H&M, Sephora, Pimkie. The smartest shopping district is Salamanca northeast of the center, around Calle Serrano. Top designer names like Chanel, Versace, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Dolce e Gabbana and Hugo Boss, including the fluid fabrics and elegant cuts of Spanish designer Adolfo Domínguez, are located on Calle Ortega y Gasset. Head for Calle Serrano for Purificación García, Roberto Verino, Ermenegildo Zegna, Loewe, Carolina Herrera, Manolo Blanik, Cartier, and Yves Saint Laurent. Prada is on Goya street, and on Jorge Juan St you can find even more luxury shops.
  • El Rastro. Madrid's largest flea market, only open on Sunday mornings, featuring rows upon rows of private vendors selling a variety of homemade goods, and a plethora of live entertainment. It is very important to note that the Rastro is notorious for having an abundance of pickpockets, so watch your handbag closely and do not bring along valuables. The closest Metro station is La Latina.
  • Cuesta de Moyano, A quaint outdoor book market, near Museo del Prado.
  • Chueca and Fuencarral Street Area— This part of the city used to be an abandoned and marginal area. However recently, it has quickly turned into the most avant-garde and modern part of Madrid. Thanks to the gay community, old shops were taken over and turned into the coolest places of Madrid. Today it is an example of modernity, a paradise for entertainment where everything is possible. The streets are filled with restaurants, alternative cafés and shops, a good example is the Market of Fuencarral (Mercado de Fuencarral, in Spanish) a novel shopping center concept. Apart from the purely commercial, this area proposes a wide range of gastronomy and party clubs by night in the weekends.
  • Fuencarral Market (Mercado de Fuencarral)— The market is one of the most daring and dynamic spaces in the city. Besides shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories and decorative items, that will delight the most daring and fashion conscious shoppers, this modern market also offers avant-garde cultural activities on a continuous basis. Frequent disc jockey sessions are put on in the center’s café, and also exhibitions in the art gallery and cinema projections and theater pieces in the old cinema room. The Cinema and activities are open until midnight. It is located in the Fuencarral street, number 45, between Tribunal and Gran Via. Its 3 floors crowded of modern shops are aimed specially for young people.
  • El Corte Inglés [40].Spain's largest department store, with multiple buildings and several floors. You can find anything in a wide range and stocks. It has almost everything, from fine dining to pneumatics. Several locations in Madrid.

There are also a great number of H&M, Zara, Mango, and Blanco stores all over Madrid, with high fashion clothes and accessories at a low price.


Plaza Mayor is particularly notorious for high prices and low quality.

A much better option is the La Latina neighborhood just south of Plaza Mayor, especially along the Cava Baja street. To enjoy a gastronomic tour of this area you can join the Old Madrid Tapas & Wine Tour. At bars, one generally orders various sized plates, a ración meaning a full dish, a media ración a half dish or a smaller version which would be a tapa, a pinxto or a pincho.

If you are looking for food for a picnic the Corte Ingles on Calle de Preciados near Sol has a basement store fully stocked supermercado that includes a deli, bakery and fresh produce. There are also a number of deli-like shops along Calle Arenal that offer food para llevar (for take away). Also, if you are looking for cheaper food try any of the Museo del Jamon scattered throughout the city.
Museo del Jamon
Museo del Jamon
They offer deli take out service as well as tapas and raciónes at fairly reasonable prices. Other cheap but good food options include: La Zapateria, El Brillante, Fastgood and Las Bravas.

Don't forget that the Spaniards don't eat lunch until 2 or 3 pm, and dinner doesn't start until 9 or 10 pm. As a rule of thumb, restaurants serve lunch from 1PM (earlier in touristic zones) until 3:30PM, then close and re-open for dinner at 8:30PM, serving until 11:00PM.If you're really desperate, the standard bunch of fast food chains do stay open throughout the day.


Madrid is located in the central region of Spain known as Castille, which has a particular culinary tradition within Spain, largely meat based. Within this region, Madrid has a number of "typical" dishes:

  • Callos a la Madrileña— A hot pot of spicy beef tripe similar to those found in Turkey and the Balkans.
  • Cocido Madrileño— Chickpea stew with meat and vegetable products. The particularity of this stew is the way it is served. The soup, chickpeas and meats are served and eaten separately. Restaurants specialized in Cocido: Malacatin and La Bola.
  • Oreja de Cerdo— Pigs ear, fried in garlic. This popular dish is widely eaten throughout central Spain.
  • Sopa de Ajo— The garlic soup is a rich and oily soup which generally includes paprika, grated Spanish ham, fried bread and a poached egg. A variation of this soup is known as Sopa Castellana.
  • Chocolate con Churros or Porras— Simple fried crispy, non-sweet dough with a very thick chocolate drink, that you have mostly as a breakfast or winter "five o´clock".

Spanish dishes popular throughout the country are also widely served in Madrid--see Spain#Spanish dishes.


It is ironic that Madrid, located right in the center of Spain is known in the country as the "Best port in Spain" having higher quality seafood than most coastal regions. You will be hard pressed to find better quality seafood in any city in Europe than in Madrid. This quality comes at a price, and most Spaniards will rarely embark on the luxury of a mariscada (Spanish for "seafood fest"). Experiencing Madrid's seafood may be, for the visitor, an experience which will be worth the cost.

A side note about paella in Madrid - many of the restaurants and cervecerías in the Sol and Plaza Mayor area have "generic" poster board advertisements on the sidewalks with pictures advertising various paella dishes (you will recognize them when you see them). These paellas are usually not the best quality to be found and should generally be avoided. If you are looking for good, authentic Spanish paella, it is usually best to find a more expensive, "sit-down" type of restaurant that offers a variety of paella dishes and try your first paella dish there. Look for restaurants that specialize in the cuisine of Valencia like: Casa de Valencia, Casa Nemesio, Manete, Samm or D'fabula.

Specialties to buy

Meat and meat products (Jamon Iberico, morcilla, chorizo etc) are of generally a very high quality in Spain and particularly in Madrid. See Spain#Specialties to buy.

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Sol and Opera

  • Alhambra— Calle de Victoria 9, +34 91 5210708, metro Sevilla. This is a good place to stop in on a hot afternoon for a cold beer and some Andalusian tapas. Try some of their sausages and cheeses.
  • La Casa del Abuelo— Calle de Victoria 12, +34 91 5212319, metro Sevilla. A Madrid landmark in operation for over 100 years, this place attracts a standing room only crowd on the weekends. They mainly serve shrimp based tapas dishes so if you're not into shellfish steer clear. Order a plate of their garlic shrimp along with some of the house wine.
  • La Zapateria— Calle de Victoria 8, +34 91 5210708, metro Sevilla. Great potato dishes here that you can get mixed with chorizo or other items. Also try the "pincho moruno" (pork skewers) or any of the other items you see displayed on ice in the front window. The Ribeiro on tap (sparkling white wine from Galicia) is not to be missed.
  • El Inti de Oro— Calle de Ventura de la Vega 12,, +34 91 4296703, metro Sevilla. For something different, try this great Peruvian restaurant a short walk from Sol. Be sure to order some of their ceviche and try the "Pisco Sour" cocktail.
  • Chocolatería San Ginés — Calle de Pasadizo De San Ginés 5, +34 91 3656546, metro Sol. Specializing in "chocolate con churros", this Madrid fixture is open 24 hours a day, and is the perfect place to top off a night on the town.
  • The Penthouse, [41] Plaza de Santa Ana, 14, +34 91 7016000, Located on the roof of a hotel, terrace-style restaurant serving tapas and traditional cuisine. At night they serve great mojitos in a young, club-like atmosphere.

Gran Via and Plaza España

  • Siam—Calle San Bernardino 6, +34 91 559 8315, metro Plaza España/San Bernardino. Beautifully decorated with a tranquil atmosphere, the food is quite reasonable and offers a nice departure from Spanish fare. Most mains between €8 and €12.

La Latina and Lavapiés

  • Casa Lucio - Calle de Cava Baja 35, +34 91 3653253, metro La Latina [42]. Pricey but worth it, the Spanish Royal family sometimes entertain guests here and you may run into a few sports figures and movie stars. You should definitely book ahead on the weekends, and reservations are recommended even for the weekdays. Known for their cocido, their roasts and their "huevos rotos".
  • Botín - Calle Cuchilleros, 17, +34 913664217, metro La Latina [43]. Opened in 1725 Botín is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the oldest operating restaurant in the world. Once a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, the menu still delights with specialities including roast suckling pig (cochinillo) and roast lamb (cordero). offers a tour of this institution.

Chueca & Malasaña

  • Cocina Mex-Mex - Calle Libertad 33, +34 91 521 7640, metro Chueca. This is a small, usually crowded, friendly Mexican restaurant with good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Sample some of their tacos and super cheesy chilaquiles.
  • Al-Jaima (Cocina del Desierto) - Calle Barbieri, 1 +34 91 523 1142, metro Chueca. This dark, cave-like Moroccan restaurant has some of the best North African food in the city. The seating is at low Moroccan-style tables and the calm, mellow atmosphere makes you feel like you're far from the bustling center of Chueca.


  • Estay - Calle de Hermosilla 46, +34 91 5780470, metro Velázquez, closed on Sundays. A great place for tapas, they offer a large menu, reasonable prices and excellent quality food. The Solomillo al Foie is excellent and the deserts are recommended as well. Very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • La Trainera, Calle de Lagasca 60, +34 91 5768035, metro Velázquez or Serrano[44]. A Madrid institution for decades, Trainera is an excellent but somewhat pricey restaurant serving strictly seafood dishes. They have a great wine selection and the waiters can recommend different vintages that will complement the food. Try the carabineros (giant scarlet shrimp) or the rodaballo (turbot). Usually closed in August.
  • Midnight Rose, [45] Mediterranean cuisine with Asian, American and Italian influences, with emphasis on seasonal Produce. Dining for private parties as well.


  • Bacchus , Avenida Moratalaz 141, +34 913280468, metro Vinateros or Artilleros. Right in the middle of Lonja, an area with plenty of places to eat and pubs. It is still close enough from city centre but offers a more relaxed surrounding, making it one specially indicated for families, although there is an ample age range of customers. Bacchus offers a mixture of innovative and old style tapas. Very good and expensive wine list. It can get very busy on weekends. Nice outside sitting area but inside y very small and dirty.The people they working their are very nervous,very busy and they do not attend you well.

Coslada (just outside Madrid)

  • Jaen 3 - Calle Poitiers 3, Coslada, Madrid, metro Coslada Estadio Olimpico, +34 63 0036987. An excellent bar de tapas and restaurant. A nice place to enjoy good Spanish food and original lifestyle without having to spend too much. The place is just outside central Madrid and so it's not influenced by classic tourist traps and you can enjoy some good food and true 'raciones' and the good old Spanish bar life. The owners are pretty nice people and you might find yourself chatting with them about Madrid and Spain. In summer time it has a superb teraza that is pretty close to the Olympic Stadium.
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
  • Plaza de Santa Ana, Huertas. Beautiful square, center of the Huertas neighborhood, armed to the teeth with bars, restaurants, hotels and theaters.
  • La Latina. In the old section, many small bars and pubs, a generally older crowd (late 20s, 30s - you know, "adults"). Contains La Cava Baja street. Avoid places in the Plaza Mayor but for sunbathing and beers. Multiple bars serving fantastic tapas in the Cava Baja and Cuchilleros. It's surprisingly very crowded on Sunday mornings, from 11AM to late in the afternoon due to its close location to the flea market El Rastro.
  • Tribunal. Plenty of bars related to Madrid′s famous "movida", the plaza 2 de Mayo is in this area, you′ll find a higher concentration of bars playing rock, punk, etc. in this area. Calle Manuela Malasaña is a great place to start. Definitely check out La Via Lactea, a swingin' bar where you can twist the night away with local hipsters.
  • Gran Vía. Due to its location between the aforementioned areas, there are plenty of clubs around this main street, which usually open from 1AM to 6-7AM, and there is a constant opening of new ones due to the success (and long queues to get in).
  • Chueca. The gay neighborhood; and, by far, the most cosmopolitan place in town. Has become quite chic and expensive.
  • Alonso Martínez. Many pubs and later on small discos. Until about 3AM, a very young crowd, and if you′re around here before midnight, and over the age of 20, prepare to feel positively old. Most places close around 3AM, then people move to nearby areas to continue partying (clubs in Gran Via or Tribunal).
  • Torre Europa. A very posh or "pijo" crowd, full of pubs and clubs. Quite expensive and virtually uniform music, places, and people.
  • Moncloa. Many cheap bars and discos as it is near the university although some of the places are best avoided.
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  • hotel gran via madrid, gran via (52), 902 052 394, [46]. Hotel on the Madrid famous gran via, a few minutes from Puerta del sol  edit


The national youth hostel association can be found online at [47]. Prices range from €7.80 to €16 per person and night, including breakfast.

  • Cat's Hostel, Calle Cañizares, 6 (28012), +34 91 3692807 fax: +34 91 4299479 [48]. In a 17th century palace, but has a modern interior and is clean and secure. Breakfast and internet is included in the price and there is also a bar. It attracts a young backpackers clientele. Prices under €20.
  • Way Hostel Residence, C/ Relatores, 17, tel: +34-914-200-583, [49] Smaller than cat´s hostel, this place has a nice ambiance and is catered to young traveleres. Nice kitchen, friendly staff, and free internet.
  • Equity Point Madrid, also known as Hostal Metropol, Calle Montera, 47 (28013), +34 91 5212935 [50] [51]. Very central location, two steps from Puerta del Sol, 30 seconds walk from Gran Via metro station. It's a former classic Spanish "hostel", refurbished with all-ensuite rooms (singles, doubles, 6 bed dorms). Free internet access, free breakfast. It also has a lively bar and restaurant.
  • Los Amigos Backpackers Hostel [52]. Very central location, beds available for less than €20. Breakfast is offered. There is a lounge area, a kitchen in which you are able to cook your own food, and a bar. The beds are clean, comfortable, and the staff are friendly.
  • Hotel San Antonio de la Florida, Paseo de la Florida, 13, Metro: Line 8 from Airport Terminal T2 to Nuevos Ministerios and then take Metro line 10 to Principe Pio Metro Station which is only 5 minutes walk from the Hotel San Antonio de la Florida, +34 915418040 [53]. Inside the historic center of Madrid but near the beautiful area of the river Manzanares , between nature with the Park of Casa de Campo and the city with only ten minutes walking to the centric Puerta del Sol.All rooms have Internet access,Air conditioning,Multi-line phone,Wake-up calls,Housekeeping (daily),Complimentary toiletries,Hair dryer,Television,Iron/ironing board(on request). Room rates starting from €53.
  • Abba Atocha Hotel, Pº Santa María de la Cabeza 73 [54]. Ideally located in the center of Madrid, close to the historical and artistic heart of the city (El Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen Bornemisza Museums), and the Atocha railway station (where all Spanish railway connections and high-speed trains can be found).
  • Hostal Brisas, Calle Cruz 8 1º, Metro: Sol, +34 91 5314403 [55]. All rooms have ensuite, TV, central heating, air conditioning. Located in the heart of historic Madrid, this hotel is within 1 minute walking distance of the famous Puerta del Sol. Three subway stations are very close by: Sol, Sevilla, and Anton Martin. Singles 40€, doubles 55€.
  • Hostal Plaza d'Ort, Plaza del Angel 13, +34 91 4299041 [56]. Cheap hotel with a good location near Plaza de Santa Ana. All rooms feature bathrooms, TV and air conditioning. Singles 30€-38€, doubles 48€-58€.
  • Hostal San Martin, C/ Concepción Arenal 4, Metro: Callao, +34 915 319176 [57]. Small, clean guest-house on the 4th floor. Ideally located just meters from Gran Via, with great staff and free wi-fi. All rooms have sink & shower, but most share bathrooms. Singles 30€-36€, doubles 42€-48€.
  • Hostal Villagarcía, Calle Fuencarral 10 3º, Metro: Gran Via, +34 91 5220585 [58]. Centrally located, all rooms include bathroom, TV, free wi-fi, air conditioning, central heating, laundry and baggage storage facilities. Rooms with kitchen, washing machine and fridge are also available. €30-€65 (single - room for four).
  • Hotel Liabeny, Calle Salud 3, +34 91 531 90 00[59]. Nice hotel located between Plaza de Callao and Puerta del Sol.
  • Pension Paquita, Calle Lacoma 5, +34 91 739 3831[60]. This is a nice establishment and family deal, it`s located near Madrid center in Lacoma Town.
  • Hotel NH Nacional [61]. Hotel is opposite Atocha station, in the heart of the Art Triangle, 1 minute from the new exhibition centre ‘Caixa Forum’ and the botanical gardens. There are 36 NH hotels in Madrid.
  • There are 16 Accor hotels in Madrid [62]. The hotels encompass the Sofitel, Novotel, Ibis, & Etap hotel in Madrid.
  • Hotel ME Madrid, Plaza de Santa Ana, 14, (34) 91 7016000 [63]. Experience-based personality hotel conveniently located in the heart of the historic city center steps away from the famous Museum del Prado and la Puerta del Sol.
  • Hostal Visa, Calle Pérez Galdós, 7 (28004), +34 91 5310987. Simple, clean and secure. Central location close to Gran Via. Friendly staff. Singles from €30.
  • GlobalCityBreak, Calle Comandante 1, +34 637 801 360, [65]. Quality holiday apartments in the historic city centre of Madrid From 70 euros.  edit Holiday rentals in Madrid
  • Hotel Madrid Preciados, c/ Preciados37 Madrid, 28013, +34 91 454 44 01 [66]. The Hotel Preciados is a new concept 4-star hotel. Its excellent location means that its customers can enjoy the best cultural and commercial attractions in Madrid, such as the Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace, El Prado Museum, Corte Ingles, FNAC...
  • Adler Hotel, Campomanes 7, 28013, Adler Hotel - Calle Velazquez 33, Goya 31, Toll Free +1 866 376 7831 . The Adler Hotel is housed in a completely refurbished building equipped with the modern facilities but whose nineteenth-century charm and secluded atmosphere have been carefully maintained. 45 deluxe rooms and suites. You will be a stone′s throw from the Golden Triangle of Art (The Prado Museum, The Reina Sofía Center and The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection).
  • Hotel De Las Letras, Gran via 11, Madrid, 28013, +34 91 5237980 [67]. Lovely hotel in central location. Old building with tasteful modern interior. Well sound-proofed against the busy Gran Via outside. Very comfortable beds. Rooms with TV, hi-fi, mini bar, bath/shower. Optional breakfast buffet with wide choice of good quality food and drinks. Pleasant, comfortable bar.
  • Hotel Villa Magna, Paseo de la Castellana 22, +34 91 5871234 [68], [69]. A 5-star hotel on one of Madrid's most exclusive streets. 151 rooms and suites. The hotel is surrounded by landscaped gardens.
  • Meninas Hotel, Campomanes 7, toll-free +1 866 376 7831. Hotel Meninas is an exquisite historic building of the XIX century in the historic center of Madrid that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art boutique hotel. A classic atmosphere blended with modern decorative touches - a balance of unpretentious formality and well tempered cordiality.
  • Quo Godoy Hotel, Avda. Quitapesares nº 35, Villaviciosa de Odón. Toll Free +1 866 376 7831. The hotel is a brand new property, 4 star, with an avant-garde design. The hotel features 99 guest-rooms fully equipped, including 2 disabled rooms, 18 duplex rooms and 1 junior suite. Adjacent to the hotel is a convention center that is directly connected and can hold a variety of events from 10 to 800 people. Offering an in-door heated swimming pool, health and beauty spa center, aquatic treatments and fitness area.
  • Quo Puerta del Sol, Calle de Sevilla 4, Toll Free +1 866 376 7831. The turn-of-the-century grandeur with modern conveniences and amenities, together with a perfect location in the historical, cultural and commercial heart of Madrid, make of The Quo Puerta del Sol hotel a new place to discover in Spain’s capital. Madrid 's Hotel Quo Puerta del Sol is housed in a emblematic building from the beginning of the 20th century with unique views of the city. It has been totally restored in 2003, designed and equipped to offer you a perfect stay.
  • Gran Hotel Velazquez, C/ Velázquez 62, 28001 Madrid, Spain, [70]. The Gran Hotel Velázquez is a 4 star hotel in Madrid located in the refined Salamanca district. This hotel has been providing stylish accommodation for over 50 years.  edit
  • Maria Elena Palace, C/ Aduana 19, 28013 Madrid, Spain, [71]. The Hotel María Elena Palace is located just 200 metres away from the Puerta del Sol. Renowned for its magnificent glass dome in the lobby.  edit
  • Osuna, C/ Luis De La Mata 18, 28042 Madrid, Spain, [72]. Set in the middle of the main business districts of Madrid.  edit
  • Asturias, C/ Sevilla 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain, (+34) 914 296 676‎ (), [73]. A 2 star Hotel. The Asturias is only 200 meters from the central Puerta del Sol.  edit
  • Gran Melia Fenix, Hermosilla, 2, toll-free +1 866.43.MELIA. [74] Luxury hotel set in the heart of the Madrid's financial district, Barrio de Salamanca quarter. The Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen—all within neighboring proximity to Gran Melia Fenix. Guests will discover the authenticity and old-world charm of Madrid, Spain from this intimate location.
  • Mirasierra Suites Hotel & Spa, Calle de Alfredo Marquerie 43, 28034 Madrid, Spain, (+34) 91 727 79 00, [75]. Mirasierra Suites Hotel & Spa is a modern luxury hotel located in Madrid′s prestigious residential district Mirasierra, overlooking the Sierra de Guadarama. The hotel is also home to the Verdil Restaurant [76].  edit


Self-catering apartments have become a solution to make up for the lack of accommodation on several periods, when conventions or any other specific event overflow city′s capacity. They can also offer more space, more privacy, and the option of cheaper self-cooked meals.

  • Self catering apartments by, **, ** (), [78]. offers you a wide range of holiday apartments in Madrid  edit
  • Plaza Mayor Apartments, Plaza Mayor 30 Madrid, +34 695 097 612, [79]. checkin: 12.00; checkout: 23.00. Luxury short-term apartment rental in Madrid at affordable rates. €120-€180/night apartments for up to 5 people.  edit
  • 10 Rent, Nicaragua 1 3° 31 28016 Madrid, +34 91 350 81 91 (), [80]. Short-term apartment rental in Madrid. €110-€130/night.  edit
  • Tourism Rent Apartments in Madrid (, Calle de los Estudios, 3 (Madrid), +34911291880 (), [81]. Rental of luxury apartments, lofts and flats in downtown Madrid for short term and mid-term stays. Rental per days and weeks. Ask for availability.  edit
  • Apartments FlatsInMadrid, Arenal, 20, Bajo Izquierda, + (34) 650 362 831 (), [82]. Vacation apartments for short stays, all located in the city centre and main touristic areas. From 1 to 8 guests. Affordable prices. €74-€120/night.  edit
  • Apartments Gran Via, Mesonero Romanos, 15, +34 679616855 (), [83]. Offers two apartments on the Gran Via street in Madrid. One has one bedroom, the other has two bedrooms. €100, €120/night + €40/visit cleaning fee.  edit
  • Apartments in Madrid, Luchana 4, 2nd floor D 4, +34 914 442 719, +34 629196883, [84]. Apartments from 1 to 4 bedrooms in a variety of neighborhoods of Madrid. €90- €200/night.  edit
  • StopInRoom Apartments, Nuñez de Arce, 4, +34 695 452 899 (), [85]. Offers 26 apartments in various parts of the city. For extra fees can offer ground transport, catering, language tutoring, and tour guiding also. Administrative phone +91 522 85 95. €75-€150/night.  edit
  • WeLoveMadrid (We love Madrid), Costanilla de los Angeles, 16, +34-91-7584318 (), [86]. We love Madrid offers luxury apartments in the centre of Madrid for short and mid-term rentals. The apartments are fully furnished and have been designed with different themes that reflect the culture of city. (Painters of the court, La Movida de Madrid) €85-€200/night. (40,419354,-3,708085) edit
  • Hotel Madrid Preciados, C/Preciados nº37, +34 91 454 44 01, [87]. hotel madrid, hoteles madrid, hotel en madrid, 4 stars hotel €96-150/night.  edit
  • (, Calle Nicasio Gallego, 19 Bajo Derecha, +34-91-5931230 (, fax: +34-91-5941605), [88]. offers modern centrally located studios, 1 and 2 bedroom holiday apartments for short-term rentals. All apartments are safe, modern and fully equipped. Most have air conditioning, WiFi and an elevator. Some have a garage, a swimming pool access, a terrace, cable-TV and sport facilities. Business travellers welcome. €76-€130/night.  edit


Due to the proliferation of wi-fi routers distributed by the DSL providers, Madrid has a considerable number of unsecured hotspots in the trendier neighborhoods, such as Chueca.

Stay safe

Madrid has a fair amount of non-violent pickpocket crime so always watch any bags (purses, luggage, shopping bags, etc) you may have with you especially in the underground and in the Puerta del Sol/Gran Via areas. Be extra careful with your luggage and if you are carrying numerous bags, be aware of anyone approaching you with an outspread map in hand asking for directions (this is very possibly a bid to distract you while an accomplice steals your luggage). Busy tourist areas are obvious prime targets, but pubs and clubs are not uncommon target zones. However, pickpocket crime in Madrid is very rarely confrontational and the city is equipped with cameras and there are always a lot of people in the streets, even at night time, so you can walk across the city without fear. Madrid is as safe as or safer than most mainstream tourist cities but a little precaution and common sense can save you some nasty surprises.

Getting robbed by gangs of gypsy children while withdrawing money from cash-points is not uncommon at all. This usually happens in the city centre, with a couple of kids (as young as 10 years old) surround the unsuspecting victim once the card has been inserted and the PIN has been keyed in. One of the kids will try to distract the victim with some sort of document or newspaper while another one either takes the money that's coming out, or keys in a withdrawal amount of €500 (to obviously take it). In case you face this, your best option is to immediately press the red CANCEL key ('CANCELAR' in spanish), the delivery of the bills will be cancelled, as well as the debit to your account/card, and in a few seconds your card will be returned to you.

The number of such incidents has decreased significantly, since major Spanish banks now require you to enter the PIN again before dispensing the bills for amounts exceeding €100.

Get out

Madrid is both a city and a region in Spain and as such has a number of sights within easy reach. Popular destinations include:

  • Alcalá de Henares— A UNESCO World Heritage site. This city has a lot of interesting places to visit. But the most important of Alcalá de Henares is that it is the city where the famous writer of Quixote, Cervantes, was born.
  • Aranjuez— A UNESCO World Heritage site, Aranjuez is an excellent day trip away from Madrid. Highlights include the Palacio Real, the summer home for the Bourbons and the lavishly designed Casa del Labrador near the Tagus River. There are some excellent restaurants serving the local specialty, artichokes. To get there, catch a local train from either the Atocha or Chamartin stations. It takes around 45 minutes from Atocha station, or around 55 minutes from Chamartin station to get to Aranjuez.
  • Chinchon— Typical Spanish town which retains its character from the 1700s.
  • El Escorial— A UNESCO World Heritage site. A mountainous retreat home to Spain's largest monastery, the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. To get there, catch a local train from either the Atocha or Chamartin stations. It is just over one hour from Atocha station or around 55 minutes from Chamartin station.
  • Segovia— A UNESCO World Heritage site. Medieval city home to a famous Roman aqueduct and the Spanish Mint (It doesn't belong to Madrid region, but it's quite close and worth a visit). It is about a 2 hour train ride from Atocha station or 1 hour and 45 minutes from Chamartin station on the regional trains, or as fast as 30 minutes on the high speed trains.
  • Toledo— A UNESCO World Heritage site. Medieval walled city and former capital of Spain. It's about a 30 minute train ride from Madrid Atocha station with plenty of art and architecture so very worthy of a day trip. But it is on the late spring and the early summer nights that it reaches its beauty peak, simply breathtaking, do not miss it.
  • Valle de los Caidos— (Valley of the fallen) The world's largest free-standing Christian cross. Franco′s tomb and memorial to Catholics (both in Franco's side and opposite) killed in the Civil War. Construction was ordered by Franco and erected on rocks through the labor of many Republican prisoners of war.
  • El Pardo— A little village near Madrid (8 km. from the city center, connected by bus) and close of "Palacio de la Zarzuela" (residence of the King of Spain, no visits allowed), surrounded by mountains and the location of the "Palacio de El Pardo" (El Pardo Palace), Franco′s residence between 1940 until his death (1975). It was a former residence of the Kings of Spain.
  • Sierra de Guadarrama - a mountainous area north-east of Madrid probably reached most easily by Renfe Cercanias to Cercedilla on the line to Segovia. There is a special Renfe Cercanias line, narrow gauge and often single track, from Cercedilla through glorious scenery to Los Cotos. This is only yards from an entrance to the Peñalara Nature Park.

To check the train timetables and fares, visit the Renfe website [89].

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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